Emily now an inspiration after years of constant turmoil
LOCAL transgender woman Emily Finch put the spotlight on incongruences in the justice system at an International Women's Day lunch at Ballina Courthouse on Tuesday.
Ms Finch shared her story with women in justice, including police, court registrars, domestic violence support workers and solicitors, as a guest speaker at the event.
"I love speaking to professionals, all of you people are influential, you meet a lot of diverse people through your work," she said.
"I said if I made it through transition I would help people."
Ms Finch said transgender women were particularly vulnerable when it comes to the justice system.
"Trans females are terrified of the prison system," Ms Finch said.
"The irregularities between states blow my mind.
"In some states it is possible for transgender females to end up in male prisons.
"I'm substantially weaker than I was before I started taking hormones.
"I changed my birth certificate because I was so scared something might happen and I'd get put away in a male prison."
Ms Finch has had surgery, making it possible to change her birth certificate.
But for other transgender people, it is not so easy.
In some states including NSW and Queensland, transgender people must undergo surgery to affirm their sex, which is often complicated, not conducted in Australia, and not covered by Medicare.
Ms Finch's procedures cost her $20,000 and she said the costs can easily blow out to $100,000 depending on what people need done to feel at peace with their body.
She spoke about the constant turmoil when she "lived the life of a male" and how the anguish has lifted since she came out to her colleagues at Ballina Shire Council and started hormone treatment.
The senior managers were supportive, and managed the news well.
"Coming out was a bloody awesome experience," she said.
"From a depot of 150 guys they were all pretty good.
"Immediately guys came up to me and said, 'congrats, well done'."
She recieved a loud applause as her talk wrapped up, and women at the event shared with each other about the women who have influenced them in a positive way.